You’ve probably made a recipe like this yourself – add a bit of olive oil to the pan, fry the garlic, add another drizzle of olive oil and sizzle the meat, add a handful of veggies and a dash of cream or creme-fraiche to finish it off and voila, you have an instant sauce for pasta. Maybe with just a touch more olive oil to loosen it up at the end. This is the recipe I intended to make, but when I reached for the olive oil I was alarmed by the speed with which the bottle seems to be emptying. I’m sure it was full three weeks ago and now there is only about a third left. Sometimes I’m just too engrossed in its wonderful heart healthy monounsaturated fat profile, busy living the Mediterranean diet, that I forget that all of those drizzles are slowly and effortlessly stockpiling calories. So here’s my tip for the day for anybody else who thinks they might have gone a bit too mediterranean – get a tablespoon from your drawer, fill it with olive oil and then empty the oil into the pan that you use the most. It’s quite a good amount, yes? There, you never have to measure olive oil again – you now know what a tablespoon of olive oil looks like and also what 120 kcal of olive oil looks like, give or take a little.
So to the pasta. The whole dish contains just one teaspoon of olive oil per person, with the extra moisture provided by a big glug of vegetable stock. The stock is a great twist – pop the lid on and the broad beans and chicken effectively steam instead of fry. Vegetable stock gives the final sauce a rich savoury flavour and with the mustard it only needs a little touch of creme-fraiche to finish it off (hats off to my supermarket who now sells creme-fraiche that is both half-fat AND organic). Adding a big handful of mint at the end is a vital stage to make the whole meal lively and fresh (it is still supposed to be summer after all).
It nearly didn’t end well. Thoughtfully watching the pan while the chicken and vegetables steamed, the broad beans transformed from vibrant shade of green to a pale sage, wrinkling a little. Hang on, isn’t there something about broad beans skins being really tough?
Nigel Slater and his kitchen diaries came to the rescue (not for the first time); Nigel says ”…remove the skin from any beans bigger than your thumbnail. Tiny beans will have a thin skin that is perfectly edible”. Phew. I just gave the whole thing a glance over at the end and squeezed any slightly larger beans out of their skins. This wasn’t a chore as there were only about two; if all of your beans are on the large side then you might want to parboil them and pop them out of their skins before you start.
This recipe is my contribution to presto pasta nights, hosted as always by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast
Recipe for Tagliatelle with broad beans, chicken, mustard and mint
2 Large Shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 small skinless organic chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
160g Broad beans
150ml hot vegetable stock
1 tbsp grain mustard
2 tbsp half-fat creme-fraiche
2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
160g tagliatelle (dry weight)
Black pepper to season
Bring a pan of water to the boil for the pasta.
Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided frying pan for which you have lid. Cook the shallots in the oil for a couple of minutes on a gentle heat, then add the chicken breasts and cook for another two to three minutes, until golden on the outside.
Add the broad beans and vegetable stock to the pan and put the lid on. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes. While the chicken is simmering cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. When you come to drain the pasta, retain a cupful of the starchy cooking water.
Stir the creme-fraiche and mustard into the pan with the chicken etc and then tip in the freshly drained pasta. Give it a stir and if it seems a bit stuck together slosh in a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Season with black pepper, stir through the chopped mint and serve.
Unlike most pasta dishes, this one really doesn’t seem to benefit from the addition of parmesan.